Feb. 25 – March 10, 2018
Welcome to issue two hundred and eighty-two of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:
- How the Warriors became the wokest team in pro sports
- What made Drazen Petrovic groundbreaking and unforgettable
- Meet Kobe King-Hawea, the Female Baller Blazing a New Path to the Pros
- As USA Gymnastics promises to change in post-Nassar world, love for the sport remains
- Former NBA All-Star Baron Davis Wants Athletes To Think ‘BIG’
- The First Four-Minute Mile, In One Pain-Wracked Photo
- ESPN, Under Armour & LISC Announce New Initiative To transform vacant Spaces
- Chris Mullin Preaches the Power of One Day at a Time
- U.S. Women’s Hockey Team Uses Its Spotlight to Inspire the Next Generation of Female Athletes
- Kevin Durant, tech investor, has a new startup target: Students with dreams like the ones he had
International Women’s Day 2018 (The Players’ Tribune)
Five reasons to celebrate the fifth International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) (Sport and Dev)
Value for Money: Sport for Development Intervention Shows Positive Return on Investment (Sport and Dev)
EFL announces mental health charity ‘Mind’ as new official charity partner (Beyond Sport)
Athletes Have Opened the Door; Politicians are Rushing Through It (Peace and Sport)
(Quick note: In addition to Twitter (@sportsdoinggood) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/sportsdoinggood), you can now also find us on Instagram (sportsdoinggood).
Breaking records is a special occurrence in sports. We admire those that are able to set a new level of performance, something for others to shoot for. History has a special place for those whose performance changes the way we think about the capacity of human beings overall, whether that is speed, strength or endurance.
This past week Roger Bannister, the first person to break the 4-minute mile, passed away. While many have since earned that achievement, Bannister’s record more than 50 years ago ushered in new thinking about running, and just what could be accomplished. Bannister was not the type of professional runner we see today. When he broke the mark, he was a post-graduate medical student! We include the story to not only honor Bannister but to also bring attention to the majesty of that amazing photo of his finish.
The other stories we are happy to feature include: the power and influence of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors; the brilliance of the late Drazen Petrovic, a pioneering NBA All-Star; up and coming female basketball star Kobe King-Hawea; the underlying love and commitment participants and fans have for the sport of gymnastics in light of recent controversy; former NBA star Baron Davis and his desire to help athletes think about their post-career lives; a partnership between ESPN, Under Armour & LISC to transform vacant spaces into sports spaces; the coaching and life philosophy of St. John’s head basketball coach Chris Mullin; the hope of the gold medal winning women’s hockey team for future generations of players; and a wonderful and significant gesture by NBA All-Star Kevin Durant for youth in his hometown in Maryland.
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How the Warriors became the wokest team in pro sports
America tells itself a story that success—in sports and elsewhere—is predicated upon competitiveness, discipline, hard work and character. Sports is as essential as religion to reinforcing those values to the nation, says Harry Edwards, an author, activist and consultant for the Warriors and 49ers, who organized the 1968 Olympic Project for Human Rights that ultimately led to the protest in Mexico City. It has scribes, departed saints (Vince Lombardi, Red Auerbach) and hallowed halls of fame. “It has sacred implements,” he says. “The ball that Hank [Aaron] hit over the fence when he broke Babe Ruth’s record, which people will pay millions for.” When winning athletes—let alone winning black athletes—question the validity of mainstream definitions, it sets up an acute civic dissonance. Kaepernick or Carlos or Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf become heretics and are punished as such. But the all-I-do-is-win-win-win Warriors have amassed so much cultural capital that they are not only worshipped, they’re widely heard. All that discipline, smarts, true-grit stuff? Their winning proves it works, Edwards says. But their activism challenges whether it works for people in Oakland and East St. Louis and the South Side of Chicago. The fact that they get to keep saying it is not only because they’re winning—it’s because winning in the Bay Area is a whole other thing.
What made Drazen Petrovic groundbreaking and unforgettable
“He was one of the first guys to shoot from 3 and 4 feet behind the line, and he was doing it running full speed off screens,” Carlisle says. “It was absolutely wild. He would be perfectly suited to play today.” He was a good passer who could run the break, and toss slick no-looks. Some aficionados, including George Karl, who briefly coached Petrovic in Europe, compared him to Pete Maravich. Petrovic was unguardable from midrange, flummoxing defenders with all sorts of pump-fakes and ball-fakes. Vernon Maxwell called Petrovic the toughest player he ever guarded, over even Michael Jordan. Petrovic overflowed with charisma. He pumped his fists and screamed after 3-pointers, or raised both arms above his head. He went toe-to-toe with Jordan, pointed his index finger within a few inches of Reggie Miller’s face after drilling a 3 over him, and goaded Maxwell into technical fouls. “I think Vernon wanted to fight him once,” Anderson says. Believe it or not, the NBA got a toned-down version of Petrovic. In Europe, he strutted and gloated with the exaggerated arrogance of a pro wrestling villain.
Meet Kobe King-Hawea, the Female Baller Blazing a New Path to the Pros
“Playing was all I knew from a very young age,” King-Hawea said. “It was a way to be with my family and also to get away from everything. I put basketball above everything, above even friendships. Outside of family, basketball is the first thing in my life.” After moving to Australia in 2012, King-Hawea starred in a few amateur leagues before being spotted by Center of Excellence coach Kristen Veal in early 2017. The attention proved crucial for a player who was having trouble attracting the attention of universities in the United States. Indeed, only three Australian-born players made WNBA rosters last season, but each of them had previously played for the Institute of Sport. A scholarship there can pave the way to high-level professional basketball both in Australia and in America. And in King-Hawea’s case, a scholarship backed by the NBA has proved doubly helpful. This year, she’s garnered recruiting interest from schools like TCU and Duke. And she believes her style of play, which is more suited to uptempo American basketball, will shine stateside.
As USA Gymnastics promises to change in post-Nassar world, love for the sport remains
But it was the Maletic family — Suzana and daughters Natalie, 12, and Klara, 6 — who were last to leave the arena, lingering over purchases at the souvenir shop on the concourse. They had driven nine hours from their home outside Toronto so the girls could see their gymnastics heroines in person. “I was rooting for Morgan Hurd,” Natalie said. “I like her passion for the sport. And she loves Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling! I just love the sportsmanship among all the athletes. They’re such great role models.” Klara, the competitive gymnast in the family, had less to say, busy doing her balance-beam routine on an imaginary beam, although uneven bars, she explained, was her favorite. Klara was going home with a Liukin-designed leotard and a tiny matching one for Maggie, her American Girl doll. All told, it was a marvelous trip, Suzana Maletic explained as the girls played. Nothing about the sport’s recent controversy has shaken her faith in gymnastics. “We still love gymnastics,” she said, “and we’re going to continue to follow it and look into attending more competitions if we can.”
(photo, Gymnastics) Caption: Yup Moldauer, left, and Morgan Hurd wave to fans with the victor’s trophy at the American Cup on Saturday. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)
Former NBA All-Star Baron Davis Wants Athletes To Think ‘BIG’
Other panelists at the summit included co-founder and president of Lyft, John Zimmer, and film producer Scott Budnick. While Zimmer and Ice Cube discussed the meaning of “disrupting the status quo,” Paul and Robinson talked about the importance of investing in projects with personal significance. For Davis, that means pushing for inclusion and equity in the field of play both on the court and off. He’s actively working with the LA84 Foundation to improve access to sports for youth and advocating for women in sports, business, and media. “We need to build more networks and oversight groups to be able to share with each other and stand against the broken systems,” he says. The All-Star BIG Summit helps cultivate those networks — for instance, at a recent Valentine’s Day women’s networking luncheon at the Jeremey Hotel in West Hollywood. SportsCenter anchor Cari Champion hosted the event, which honored women in business, sports, and entertainment and featured motivating speeches by Champion, Davis, and Los Angeles Sparks president and chief operating officer, Christine Simmons. Attendees included actress and activist Sophia Bush, ESPN’s Jemele Hill, and celebrity chef Nikki Shaw, among others.
The First Four-Minute Mile, In One Pain-Wracked Photo
Emerging from the horrors of Nazism and atomic warfare, Bannister’s breakthrough came to symbolize something more than just another athletic milestone. Never mind that he utilized two rabbits (Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher) to pace him through the early stages of the race. Never mind that two other milers, American Wes Santee and Australian John Landy, were also approaching the sub-four mark. Like the inaugural ascent of Mt. Everest just a year previous, Bannister’s 3:59.4 mile provided a much-needed dose of optimism and pride for a world attempting to find its post-war footing. He was “the runner who redefined the possible,” as Roger Robinson wrote in Runner’s World. (The accomplishment has held up, too: more than three times as many people have since summited Everest as have run a four-minute mile.) A post-graduate medical student at the time, Bannister was named Sports Illustrated’s inaugural “Sportsman of the Year.” He retired later in 1954 after he lowered his personal record to 3:58.8 in a memorable duel with Landy in the British Empire and Commonwealth Games (dramatically captured by photographer Charlie Warner). He became a clinical neurologist and later wrote fervently against drugs in sport.
ESPN, Under Armour & LISC Announce New Initiative To transform vacant Spaces
“Too many children aren’t able to participate in sports due to the lack of access to safe places to play for underserved youth,” said Kevin Martinez, vice president of ESPN Corporate Citizenship. “ESPN is excited to team up with Under Armour and LISC through the RePlay program to help improve access so that everyone can get involved and realize the benefits of sport.” LISC President and CEO, Maurice A. Jones said the RePlay Program is aligned with LISC’s longstanding efforts to transform vacant spaces into safe, recreational, sports and play infrastructure in communities throughout the country. “Good recreational spaces are significant threads in the social fabric of healthy communities,” he said. “Our collaboration with ESPN and Under Armour gives us an opportunity to make those communities better and stronger.” “At Under Armour we believe innovation should be encouraged everywhere – including in our communities,” said Stacey Ullrich, senior director of Global Philanthropy. “We’re thrilled to join forces with ESPN and LISC to ignite innovation and bring the joy of sport and recreation to our communities. Because we all know that sport can inspire, unite and maybe even change the world.”
Chris Mullin Preaches the Power of One Day at a Time
That, Mullin recognized, was an actual life challenge, a test of outside-the-lines character and a part of the personal journey he would rather share more than any singular competitive triumph from his Hall of Fame career. So one January afternoon, in the middle of the losing streak, he asked his players: “Where do you think I was on this date 30 years ago? I was on the Warriors, but where, exactly, do you think I was?” Blank stares came back at him. A few guesses. Chicago? Milwaukee? “No,” Mullin told them. “I was in rehab in Los Angeles.” In rehab for alcohol addiction, his early pro career at the proverbial crossroads. “They had no idea,” Mullin said of what would be ancient history to today’s 20-year-old. What his players did know, or had been told, was that four years later, Mullin was at the Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, alongside Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, cranking out textbook southpaw jump shots for the one and only Dream Team.
Mullin huddled with his players during an upset of Villanova, which was ranked No. 1 at the time, last month in Philadelphia. It was the team’s first Big East victory this season in 12 tries. Credit Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire, via Associated Press
U.S. Women’s Hockey Team Uses Its Spotlight to Inspire the Next Generation of Female Athletes
“We haven’t had a ton of sleep,” captain Meghan Duggan said before Saturday’s NHL Stadium Series outdoor game at Navy, after her team had already visited the State Department, hosted a practice session with more than 200 local girls and attended Wizards-Raptors. “But how many times in your life do you get to do a victory tour after a gold medal?” Like many of her teammates, Duggan remembers the last time such a victory tour happened in this country. Scrolling through her cell phone, she quickly pulls up a picture for proof—a picture of a picture, really, since it was snapped two decades ago. In the grainy image, a 10-year-old Duggan is wearing an oversized Team USA jersey. Standing over her left shoulder is forward Gretchen Ulion, displaying a gold medal from the Nagano Games—the United States’ last before PyeongChang—and smiling. On her right is sister Katelyn, holding an autographed box of Wheaties. The cereal still resides at Duggan’s childhood home, cherished for the inspiration it provided. “From that day forward, I wanted to be on this team,” she said. “I told everyone I knew. I built my life around it. That team, those girls lit the fire in my heart. It’s why I am who I am, and why I’m here today, because of those girls. We definitely want to have that impact on the next generations.”
Kevin Durant, tech investor, has a new startup target: Students with dreams like the ones he had
Durant’s $10 million will seed construction and operating expenses of a local chapter of College Track, which is scheduled to open this year. “This hits home, because it’s right in the neighborhood where me and my buddies lived,” said the 6-foot-11 “small” forward. College Track is a 10-year program that provides the basic infrastructure — tutoring, test preparation, picking a college that is a “fit” and how to get financial aid — that kids from less-advantaged families often don’t have. “These are all the things that middle-class families deliver if your parents went to college,” said Elissa Salas, College Track’s chief executive. “If your parents didn’t go to college, we fill that gap.” Durant’s seed money brings College Track to the East Coast for the first time. Nine College Tracks across California, Colorado and Louisiana have helped 3,000 students get to college and beyond. The Durant Center will be the first of three facilities planned for the Washington area. Salas plans two more in the District by 2021.
Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant is giving $10 million to help students in his old Prince George’s County neighborhood. He wants to give disadvantaged kids the sort of social and practical support that those from middle-class homes with college-educated parents might have. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)